During the COVID-19 lockdown period, a group of Berlin artists took the initiative to transform a seemingly unnoticeable part of the urbanscape — balconies — into pop-up galleries.
While the cultural and art institutions have had to get their heads around the fact that they must move online in order to stay relevant when the physical building cannot be visited, resulting in the much of the art world uploading its content online — a Berlin-based initiative has asked artists and cultural producers to present art on their balconies.
About 50 creatives took part in the 48-hours showcase project organised by curators Övül Durmusoglu and Joanna Warsza, called ‘Life, art, pandemic and proximity,’ aimed at sending creative messages of solidarity during the COVID-19 lockdown. ‘In times of quarantine, so many of us, cultural workers living in Berlin, happen to all be here; not far from each other, and yet absent,’ say Durmusoglu and Warsza. ‘We are asked to commit to the digital space, without critically estimating the effect of for-profit information technologies.’
They also justify their choice for the exhibition location by stating that balconies serve as the public apertures of the private. “They seem to be where the house ends, and yet not.” The ‘displayed’ balconies were ‘on view’ across the streets of the Prenzlauer Berg neighbourhood. The viewers were encouraged to download and follow a map with no start or endpoint in order to prevent possible crowds. But the printout maps served as physical guides to signalise where to stop and look up.
The idea to use balconies as a place for connectivity is not necessarily a brand-new idea. For instance, a festival, Buur(t)feest Amsterdam, takes place in gardens and on the balconies of typical Amsterdam apartment buildings for people to enjoy performances together from one’s one house. However, the idea has become precious in the lockdown world and to bring togetherness while being apart to the new level.